America’s oldest institution of higher learning has hopped on the Internet’s hottest new trend, hiring software developer Dave Winer to help get students and faculty blogging.
Harvard University has given the former software executive a fellowship at its Berkman Centre for the Internet and Society, part of Harvard Law School, in order to head up the new Blogs at Harvard Initiative. Winer, who studied math at Tulane University before collecting his master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, will instruct Harvard students and faculty in the art of posting daily dispatches to the Web.
SEOUL, South Korea – The earnest young man in tortoise-shell glasses spends up to 18 hours a day peering at a computer screen. Despite his unassuming appearance, Hwang Myong Pil’s online moniker is ”Nuclear Bomb,” and he is one of the secret weapons of South Korea’s president-elect, Roh Moo Hyun.
Hwang, 29, is a volunteer for an online fan club that is an increasingly important player in South Korean politics. The fan club, popularly known by a Korean acronym for ”People who Love Roh,” boasts 80,000 members — most of them in their 20s or early 30s with little previous taste for electoral politics. They are widely credited with playing a major part in Roh’s upset victory Dec. 19, and they are taking an unusual role in the transition to his inauguration today.
I WORRY about the internet. Useful it might be in many ways – make that some ways, rather like the occasional usefulness of a mobile phone – but the prat, nerd, geek, wonk, crank and fanatic count continues to rise inexorably.
People who surf the net for hours tell me that it is fascinating. Wrong. Unless you are looking for a specific piece of information that can be located within seconds by Google, the search engine which is a remarkable and useful invention, surfing simply wastes time.
Millions of people are apparently happy with that. They spend time on sites for sad people such as the “re-live your schooldays fantasy” of Friends Re-united, or track down weird theories about what’s wrong with the world, from global warming to athlete’s foot or how aliens are responsible for power cuts.
And they blog. Blogging, I’m told, is producing an online diary. Anyone can do it, inflicting the result on the world’s overloaded net rather like over-filling a slurry tank, to coin a farming metaphor.
Well, the man has a point. Not all blogs are as good as some blogs. But there are giveaway phrases: “I’m told” (he doesn’t really know about this stuff), “I worry” (yes, it’s not just harmless chit chat, his job could eventually go), and above all: “Anyone can do it” (!!!).
This bloke senses that the culture is shifting underneath him, and he doesn’t like it. The internet was fine when it was just a machine to help him write his columns. But what if millions of people out there would rather spend their time writing for a blog and reading other blogs, than reading his newspaper columns, or gawping uncritically at the television where his mates do their thing? What if people start having their own weird theories about everything, instead of getting them from him? Scary thoughts indeed.
His answer is: “Just say no.” Which never works.